The Exceptionally Important Jordan Noble Infantry Snare Drum, early 19th c.,***ONLINE BIDS ARE NOT ACCEPTED FOR THIS LOT*** label inscribed in ink "JB Noble" and engraved "Klemm & Brother's / Piano Forte & Music Warehouse," shell painted with Federal eagle, brass tack decoration, calfskin heads, rope and leather tensioners, h. 16 1/2 in., dia. 16 3/4 in. Provenance: Jordan B. Noble (1800-1890); Gaspar Cusachs (1855-1929), acquired from the wife of Noble, prior to 1903; The Gaspar Cusachs Collection, loaned to the Louisiana State Museum, New Orleans, LA (1909-2016). Exh.: Transfer of Louisiana from France to the United States Centennial, Colonial Museum, New Orleans, 1903; Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis World’s Fair, 1904; Louisiana State Museum, Cabildo, New Orleans, 1909-2016, 107 years.
Note: Jordan Bankston Noble (1800-1890) was the drummer who beat the call to arms for General Andrew Jackson’s troops at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, the final battle of the War of 1812. Most recognized for his time on the battlefield as Jackson’s drummer, Noble’s life spanned almost an entire century and he left a legacy as one of the most revered figures of 19th century New Orleans. Noble became an accomplished military drummer through his service in four wars and his frequent performances at battle commemoration events were widely popular. Outside of his rise to fame as a prominent military drummer, Noble was a community leader and an active participant in the fight for equality and citizenship.
Born in 1800 as a slave in Georgia, Noble and his mother passed through the slave trade of the American South and landed in New Orleans after being sold to John Noble in 1812. John Noble was a member of the U.S. 7th Infantry Regiment, commanded by General Andrew Jackson, part of the defense of New Orleans against the British. The young Jordan Noble served as the drummer boy of the 7th Infantry and fulfilled the important role of rallying the troops for battle.
According to writer Jerry Brock, “With young strong arms, Jordan Noble powerfully alerted the call to arms, the long roll of attack or a quick and definite retreat from fighting.” General Jackson’s forces were ultimately victorious over the British, and Jackson and his men, including Jordan Noble, were proclaimed the new heroes of New Orleans.
During the decades following the Battle of New Orleans, Jordan Noble continued his service as a military drummer. Noble served President Andrew Jackson in 1836 during the Second Seminole War as a member of the Louisiana Volunteers. Noble was also the drummer for the Washington Artillery during the Mexican War in 1846, under the command of General Zachary Taylor.
After his return to New Orleans following the Mexican War, Noble began regular performances playing his drum at public events. Beloved by the public who knew him as Andrew Jackson’s drummer, Noble had no difficulty drawing a crowd. His performances included yearly Battle of New Orleans commemorations, the dedication of the Andrew Jackson monument in 1856, the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Convention and Emancipation Celebration in 1864, ceremonies held in New Orleans after the death of President James Garfield in 1881, and, at the age of 84, several performances at the 1884 World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition in New Orleans.
While Jordan Noble was venerated by the general public for his distinguished military record, he was regarded by the black community as a leader in the movement for racial equality. Noble traveled to Cleveland in 1854 to attend a meeting of the National Emigration of Colored People, where he was elected to serve as the organization’s delegate from Louisiana. During the Civil War, Noble served on the Union side as Captain of Company C of the 7th Regiment of the Louisiana Volunteer Infantry. Near the end of the war, Noble attended the Convention of Colored Men of Louisiana, held in January of 1865 in New Orleans, where he served on a committee alongside prominent black Louisiana political figures, including Oscar J. Dunn, who would later serve as Lieutenant Governor during Reconstruction.
After Jordan Noble’s death in 1890, The Daily Picayune ran Noble’s obituary under the headline “Answered the Last Roll: Death of the Drummer Boy of Chalmette.” The obituary detailed the events of Noble’s remarkable life and notably stated that “many will remember the white-headed old man and his well-worn drum.” Along with “The Andrew Jackson Presentation Flag Celebrating the Victory at the Battle of New Orleans” once owned by Noble, the well-worn drum described in the obituary was displayed at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis and at the Louisiana State Museum for over 100 years.
Bibliography: “Answered the Last Roll.” The Daily Picayune. June 21, 1890; Brock, Jerry. “Jordan Noble: Drummer, Soldier, Statesman.” Louisiana Cultural Vistas. Winter 2015; Letter from Jordan Noble to Edward C. Wharton. October 19, 1881. MSS 201 Jordan B. Noble Collection. The Historic New Orleans Collection; Nott, G. William. “Gaspar Cusachs: My Interest in Louisiana History.” The Times Picayune. March 9, 1924; Official Catalogue of Exhibits, Universal Exposition Saint Louis 1904. The Official Catalogue Company: 1904; Official Souvenir Programme of the Transfer of Louisiana from France to the United States. Louisiana Historical Society: 1903; Rankin, David C. “The Origins of Black Leadership in New Orleans During Reconstruction.” The Journal of Southern History 40.3 (1974); Roumillat, Shelene. “From the Hour of Her Darkest Peril to the Brightest Page of Her History: New Perspectives on The Battle of New Orleans.” Tulane University Dissertation (2014); Roumillat, Shelene. “The Glorious Eighth of January.” Louisiana Cultural Vistas. Winter 2014; Second Biennial Report of the Board of Curators of the Louisiana State Museum 1908–1910. New Orleans: 1910; Vincent, Charles. Black Legislators in Louisiana During Reconstruction. Louisiana State University Press: 1975.